Washington High School sports complex marks milestone

Published 7:10 pm Monday, November 26, 2018

It was a blue-letter day for Pam Pack athletics yesterday, as the ribbon was officially cut at the new soccer complex in the making at Washington High School. Representatives from the high school, school system, county board of commissioners and various supporters gathered at the school for the occasion.

The impetus for the project came about in 2015, when the Pam Pack soccer team made it to the state playoffs. Having never played on a regulation-size soccer field before that event, the team was beaten. This, in turn, began the push for a new soccer field at the high school.

“We started planning for this because the Washington High School soccer team has never had a field on campus to call its own,” project supporter Dr. Liz Cook said. “The men’s and women’s teams have been to state championship games, and the fields are not the same. They’re a third bigger, so our teams were at a disadvantage from the get-go. At the same time, the football team has been practicing on a field made up from the clay that was deposited when this school was built. With this project, we’ll be able to get first-class fields for soccer, a first-class practice field for football and it gives us room to expand to other sports.”

Proceeding in four phases, the complex will eventually have a full-size soccer field, a football practice field and two half-size fields which will be utilized by the school’s marching band and JROTC program to practice formations.

“Those will allow the band and JROTC their own place,” Cook said. “Right now, they practice in the parking lot, and they’re more important than that.”

PLANS IN THE MAKING: A map on Slatestone Road shows the four-phase project that will come about on Washington High School’s campus. The bulk of the project is being funded through donations. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

The 6.49-acre lot that will eventually house the complex was initially purchased as two lots. Once the land was deeded to the Beaufort County Board of Education, the project has relied on donations from private individuals and civic organizations.

“To make this land into fields is done with 100-percent donor dollars,” Cook said. “We have had a lot of support, and we need more support.”

According to Roy Parker, another strong supporter of the project, the total cost of developing the site is estimated to be between $280,000 and $300,000. Thanks to a generous donation of $80,000 by an anonymous donor, along with many others, the remaining need on the project lies somewhere between $120,000 and $125,000.

“If there is a better example of what Beaufort County is all about, I can’t find it,” BCS Interim Superintendent Mark Doane said of the donor-driven effort.

Other donations towards the project include 370 trees and shrubs and the labor to plant them from Lowes Home Improvement. BE Singleton and Sons is doing the site preparation.

While the new sports complex has garnered support and funding from a variety of sources, it has not been without criticism. During the process of annexation and rezoning, a number of residents who live on addressed the city council with concerns over possible noise and light pollution impacting their properties.